Highlights of 2019 EnviroVista initiatives and challenges
- EPCOR continues to maintain an Environmental Management System registered to the international standard, ISO14001:2015 for the Water Treatment Plants and the Distribution System. These systems encourage continuous improvement in how we manage environmental and public health impacts of our operations.
- During this period, EPCOR continued collaboration with AEP, NSWA and the City of Edmonton to develop a comprehensive water quality monitoring program for the North Saskatchewan River. The WaterSHED (Saskatchewan Headwaters Edmonton Downstream) Monitoring Program involved building and operating a network of 22 flow and water quality monitoring stations at strategic locations throughout the watershed, from the headwaters to the Saskatchewan border. In 2019 the construction of 19 new or upgraded monitoring stations was completed and data collection began. This work was announced publicly by Mr. Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks on October 3, 2019 in Edmonton on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River.
- EPCOR continued with our ongoing lead management program in 2019. We removed 84 old lead service lines that were providing water to customer residences and businesses. We have now replaced 1,979 lead lines since the program began in 2008. We continued to offer testing and customer care packages in homes with lead service lines. We also continued with our random daytime testing program of lead at the tap in homes around the city. In July 2019, the City of Edmonton approved EPCOR's proposed $44 M enhanced Lead Mitigation Strategy that will involve the addition of a lead inhibitor (orthophosphate) to the Edmonton drinking water, elimination of partial lead service line replacements and accelerated replacements of high priority lead service lines. The latter two will be achieved financially by EPCOR's commitment to fully fund the cost of the privately-owned section of the service line. This will help to ensure complete service line removal.
- EPCOR worked with our key stakeholders to develop a drinking water emergency exercise plan for the Edmonton and region water system. The work has culminated in the Framework for Drinking Water Emergencies in the Greater Edmonton Region document, Emergency Drinking Water Supply Plan document and a 5-year exercise plan.
- EPCOR completed the 50% design of a 12 MW solar farm on previously disturbed land owned by EPCOR and within the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant fence line. The solar farm will not only help power operations at the E. L. Smith Water Treatment but will also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Edmonton and help the City meet its GHG emission reduction targets. The City of Edmonton approval process for the land rezoning application is still underway with a public hearing date anticipated in the fall of 2020. The project was approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in 2019.
- EPCOR has been operating our water treatment plants in Direct Filtration (DF) mode during the winter and fall seasons, when river water conditions allow it. This is done in order to reduce the amount of chemicals (alum) used to treat the water and the amount of solids residuals discharged back to the river during periods of relatively low river flow. Over the last few years, our ability to limit the amount of solids discharged to the river during DF operation has been hampered by poor water quality conditions in the river, which has meant less time in DF operation.
- EPCOR continued to investigate the environmental impact of the solids that are discharged to the river in 2018 and to build on the work we completed in previous years (2013-2018). The focus in 2019 was on assessment of acute and chronic toxicity of the discharges, more instream monitoring of aluminum, and assessing downstream benthic invertebrate communities. Together with similar results from previous years, our conclusions show the residuals discharge streams are not acutely toxic to fish.
- In late 2019, EPCOR started a Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) study on water treatment residuals. In the SROI the financial, environmental and social costs of building residuals management facilities at the water treatment plants will be determined and compared to alternatives. The SROI study will help guide the future residuals management strategy.
- In 2019, EPCOR completed an in-depth review of high-risk transmission water mains to determine which pipes would have the greatest impact to the system in the event of a failure. The results of this analysis have been used to identify potential repair strategies and procure a number of critical parts that will now be available to expedite the repair time and minimize the impact of a potential future failure.